With less than a month to go before the fleet heads south from various South Florida points of departure, the Florida Powerboat Club’s 30th annual Key West Poker Run is “sitting comfortably with a 250-boat roster.” That’s the word from club president Stu Jones, and it means the event has grown to roughly 10 times its original size.
“In 1993 we had 24 boats—it started as a Sonic rally that year,” Jones said. “The following year we opened it up to all brands and we had about 26 boats.”
What a difference 30 years makes. But with growth comes growing pains, and organizing, staging and departure have been particularly challenging this year thanks in large part to an ongoing Miami-Dade Parks improvement project for public boat ramps and parking at Haulover Park.
That project, in turn, has reduced current departure capacity for the November 8-14 Key West event out of Haulover Marine Center. Now owned by Suntex Marinas, the facility has long been an essential departure point for all Florida Powerboat Club events. In addition to a reduced fleet coming out of Haulover Marine Center for the run, participants will leave from Harbour Town Marina in Dania Beach, Bahia Mar Resort and Marina in Fort Lauderdale, and Grove Harbour Marina in Coconut Grove.
For Jones and company, the biggest logistical hurdles for the event typically involved securing mooring space for the massive fleet in Key West.
“Oh, don’t worry, those will come, too,” Jones said, then laughed.
But that challenge is nothing new for the club, Jones added, and he and his wife, Jackie, and their team are eager to get the fleet to Key West—and get the 30th anniversary Key West party started.
Always lively, the Key West Poker Run Village is coming back strong this year.
“Our industry sponsor support is at its highest level in recent years, and the product coming from these leading builders is simply amazing and far beyond the scope of anything we have seen in the past,” he said. “I’d like to thank Cigarette Racing Team for taking a leap of faith with the Florida Powerboat Club as our Key West presenting sponsor for a second year, and that makes the perfect time to relaunch our re-branded 38 Cigarette Top Gun sponsored by Mercury Racing, which we’ve renamed Flight 1130 for its new 565 engines.
Presented by Cigarette Racing Team, the Key West Poker Run will include its popular Poker Run Village outside the Conch Republic seafood restaurant host-venue.
“As for the event, I can only say that our 30th anniversary Key West celebration will be over the top,” Jones said. “This event has surpassed my wildest dreams as a poker-run organizer.”
Stu Jones is committed to making this year’s milestone Key West Poker Run unforgettable for Florida Powerboat Club members.
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